For better or worse: In football and life

Published 6:39 pm Friday, January 2, 2009

If you watched the Crimson Tide/Florida Gators SEC Championship Game on TV or if you watched another Florida game on TV, certainly you couldn’t help but notice the alphabetical letters and the numerals under quarterback Tim Tebow’s eyes. Printed under his right eye was “Phil.” and printed under his left eye was “4:13.” The two put together is a Bible verse reference, Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Now those of us who have sort of kept up with Tim Tebow for the past three seasons remember that he is an outstanding athlete and person. He helped lead the Gators to a National Championship as a freshman, won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore, led the Gators to become SEC Champions this season and has his team positioned to play for the National Championship against the University of Oklahoma on Jan. 8. We also know that Tebow is respected as a true Christian by his teammates and coaches. He always bears a testimony to Jesus Christ and gratitude and praise to God when interviewed on national television.

But, let’s go back to the Bible verse we see printed under his eyes for the football TV games: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Here is where the title of this article comes from. Some of the most dedicated Christians experience defeats, both in sports and in life.

The backdrop of Philippians 4:13 is that the Apostle Paul, who wrote this verse, was at the time of writing a prisoner in Rome as a result of being faithful to God and to the good news of Jesus Christ. And the context of this verse is that Paul was saying that he had learned to be content in whatever circumstances had come his way. He had experienced being in need sometimes and having plenty at other times; sometimes in prison, sometimes free. In any and every situation he had learned the secret of being content, whether in hunger or being well fed, in want or in plenty. The secret: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Tebow and the Gators suffered a bitter defeat earlier in the season at the hands of the University of Mississippi. But a believer can experience some kind of victory even in a defeat. That defeat actually made the following victories and the SEC Championship possible. And if the Gators win the National Championship on Jan. 8, it will all rest upon the Ole Miss defeat and what was experienced by the Quarterback and the Team out of that defeat. Jesus Christ gave Tebow strength in the defeat and out of the defeat. If they are defeated in the National Championship game, Jesus Christ will be there to give a real kind of strength and a real kind of victory in a bitter and disappointing defeat. (I’m pulling for Tebow’s Team to win!)

As we enter into what may become the most trying year of our lives, the truth and challenge of Philippians 4:13 may be exactly what we will need most. You may experience setbacks, losses, disappointments and defeats, but Jesus Christ will be available to give you strength and a God-given joy and even a certain kind of victory in defeats and difficulties. You will probably experience successes and victories for which you must give the Lord all the credit and praise his Name.

So, for better or for worse, remember that “believers can do all things through Jesus Christ who gives us strength” (Philippians 4:13).